The park of Bexiga

Image_Marcio Costa
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By JAIR SANCHES MOLINA JR.*

The Bixiga area was preserved by the Municipal Council for the Preservation of Historical, Cultural and Environmental Heritage of the City of São Paulo (Conpresp).

On March 14 of this year, the former acting mayor of the city of São Paulo, councilor Eduardo Tuma, tried to veto the bill that will create the Bixiga Park with mistaken arguments and in a shallow way when citing that: 1) parks are plans under the exclusive competence of the Executive and 2) there would be a “great amount” expense in the justification proposed by the São Paulo City Council, authored by Gilberto Natalini and co-authored by 25 councilors from different parties.

Located 760 meters above the level of the Atlantic Ocean, Parque do Bixiga is approximately the size of a soccer field with 10.800 square meters.

Located in the central area of ​​São Paulo, between Abolição, Jaceguai, Santo Amaro, Bixiga and Japurá streets, in sector 06, block 56, in the Sé Subdistrict, you can currently see a desert scene covered in dirt on the ground and without walls no roof or any building: an archaeological site.

Like the green areas of the Atlantic Forest deforested in the former Chácara do Bexiga, the Saracura, Anhangabaú and Bixiga rivers have become polluted and are channeled underground in the neighborhood, giving way to the asphalt of 9 de Julho and 23 de Maio avenues, streets Humaitá and Japurá and Vale do Anhangabaú.

From the 1970s onwards, the vicious practice of demolishing historic buildings in the neighborhood, which began with the construction of Elevado (a highway inspired by freeways e autobahns foreign), continues with the project structured by the Silvio Santos Group, which started to buy and demolish houses, villas, villas and historic buildings in the city.

The Bixiga area was preserved by the Municipal Council for the Preservation of the Historical, Cultural and Environmental Heritage of the City of São Paulo (Conpresp), in Resolution n˚ 22, in 2002. Despite the clarity, several historical patrimonies were demolished in the neighborhood after the Resolution 2002 on Abolição and Jaceguai streets, precisely in the area located where Bixiga Park is located.

The public building of the Treasury of the State of São Paulo, at Rua da Abolição, at number 415, was under the administrative responsibility of the Council of Real Estate Heritage of the Secretary of the Government of the State of São Paulo between 1990 and 2006. 768 m² and construction area of ​​5.121 m², the public building was sold to Grupo Silvio Santos in 2006 and demolished by the same group between 2008 and 2009.

After a request via access to public information, until now the Government of the State of São Paulo, former owner of the area, has not been able to find even the architectural plans of the heritage that was under its responsibility.

Another historic building was the Templo Israelita Brasileiro Ohel Yaacov, the first synagogue in São Paulo, located on Rua da Abolição, between 457 and 473. Founded in 1924 by the Jewish Israelite Sefaradi community, the synagogue was inaugurated in 1928 and renovated in 1961. Many immigrants Jews of different nationalities from all over the world came to São Paulo during the interwar period in Europe, mainly Palestinians and Egyptians: the main founders of this congregation.

Despite the peaceful multiculturalism represented by Jews and Arabs of different nationalities, the building was sold and demolished by the Silvio Santos Group, between 2003 and 2004. Archaeologically, a single ruin persists and survives, which proves the memory of the ancient temple: a preserved wall and a concrete door. Could this be the “wailing wall” of the Jewish-Paulistan temple? The “door of hope” for the Bixiga community? Or, simply, the abolition of privatism and the recovery of a degraded area to become a reforested area in the name of public health?

In 2006, the Department of Historical Heritage (DPH), Conpresp and the City Hall fined the Silvio Santos Group for the demolition of the synagogue on behalf of BF Utilidades Domésticas, ten times the market value of the two existing buildings on the land. By IPCA-IBGE, the amount of fines, in July 2020, would be at 854 thousand reais.

In addition to issuing the fines, Conpresp was in favor of providing counterparts and approved the project for environmental recovery in the lowlands of Elevado, in the stretch between Rua da Abolição and Rua Quatorze de Julho and surroundings. In 2013, the Public Ministry of the State of São Paulo opened a process to investigate the unfulfilled agreement between the Silvio Santos Group and the municipality.

The Ana building, on Rua da Abolição, at number 483, next to the synagogue, was a residential building with eight apartments, all purchased by the Silvio Santos Group between 1998 and 2001 and demolished by the same group in 2003 and 2004. Ernesto, on Rua da Abolição, at number 499, on the corner of Jaceguai, was best known for the popular emporiums where lively samba circles were held in stores on the ground floor. The residential apartments and stores were purchased by the Silvio Santos Group between 1998 and 2000 and demolished by the same group between 2003 and 2004.

Among the numerous residences, villas and buildings purchased and demolished on Rua Jaceguai, two stand out for being part of the archaeological site of Parque do Bixiga. The headquarters of the Sociedade dos Homens de Cor, founded in the 1970s, was known for its samba and capoeira circles in the community backyard in Vila de Jaci de Fino, at Rua Jaceguai, 556. In 1982, the villa was sold to the Silvio Santos Group and demolished in the following years.

And one of the headquarters of the Silvio Santos Group at Rua Jaceguai, 510, was demolished by the real estate group itself in 2008, after the date of the resolution of the neighborhood's listing. Still on Rua Jaceguai, at number 520, there is (re)existing Teatro Oficina Uzyna Uzona, an illustrious neighbor to the park, considered the most beautiful theater in the world by the British newspaper The Guardian. Place where French-Brazilian director Catherine Hirsch and author and director Zé Celso Martinez Corrêa are the spearheads for the preservation of the neighborhood, as they are close to both the Teatro Oficina cordon (group founded in 1958) and all the other cordons and theater venues that exist in the neighborhood and in the country.

Oswald de Andrade, a resident of Bixiga and one of the leaders of the modernist and anthropophagous movement, already aspired for a “stadium theater to make the theater of tomorrow a reality” in the manifesto “Do Teatro, que é bom”, in 1943. In 1980, Italian-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi and architect Edson Elito present a version with a reforested green area and stadium theater for this same block between Rua Jaceguai and Abolição. In 2019, the architects Marília Galmeister, Carila Matzenbacher, Tânia Parma and the architects Marcelo X and Newton Massafumi reaffirm Lina's proposal, and add a natural lake to symbolize the Bixiga River, in the project entitled Teatro-Parque do Rio Bixiga.

Regarding the arguments listed by the former mayor in the veto in March, some observations. As for the first point, that parks should be provided for in plans under the exclusive competence of the Executive, this justification disregards the legitimate possibility of the Legislature to represent social needs for green areas and public areas.

According to the System of Protected Areas, Green Areas and Open Spaces listed in article 268, the guidelines of the Master Plan of the municipality, since 2014, are:

I – expand the offer of public green areas;

II – recover free spaces and degraded green areas, including soil and vegetation cover.

As for the second point of the veto, that there would be a “large-scale” expense, we decided to raise each of the values ​​that could be measured for the same area by different sectors of society, namely: in the real estate market, in the city hall of São Paulo and in the purchase and sale contracts published in municipal registries. Within the market and real estate conditions surveyed in July 2020, there would be a hypothetical “constructive potential”, estimated at six thousand reais per square meter. And the land would cost approximately 65 million reais.

In consultation with the property records and values ​​of the São Paulo City Hall in July 2020, the market value of the land is officially close to 42 million reais. In the purchase and sale contracts declared in the registrations published in the registry offices, we applied to each of these values ​​an inflationary percentage until July 2020 indicated by the IPCA-IBGE and found an approximate value of 30 million reais paid by the group to the former owners of the lots that form the current terrain of the park.

In cases where private property does not fulfill a legally required social function, the individual right of the owner can be relativized, suffering limitations and interventions by the State in the name of the public interest, according to current legislation. And, after the Declaration of Public Utility (DUP), the cost of the land must have a 30% discount on the final value for expropriation, whatever the value defined by the technical expertise of the city hall and the Judiciary, requested after civil society confirm the interest in declaring this private land into public land.

Therefore, the necessary financial amount (the “big amount” mentioned by the former mayor) for the public expropriation can be obtained both by the private initiative Grupo Silvio Santos, due to the irregularities evidenced on the spot, and by the Secretariat of the Government of the State of São Paulo , through the State Treasury, which can be held responsible for the lack of protection of historical heritage after 2002.

In times of seeking ecological balance, it is always good to remember: the declaration of public utility for the Atlantic Forest of Parque do Bixiga is coming soon.

*Jair Sanches Molina Jr. is a researcher in Audiovisual Media and Processes at the School of Communications and Arts at USP

Originally published on Journal of USP.

Reference


ANDRADE, Oswald. “Of the Theater, which is Good”. In: Spearhead. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Civilização, 1971.

 

 

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